I love classical literature, but I’m not really a fan of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
I think I was put off the original by all the modern takes of the story, especially the various movies with the Scrooge theme. So, I don’t know what the hell I was thinking when I willingly spent several hours reading three different mash-ups of the holiday tale, but luckily two out of the three were quite amusing. Let’s go from crappy to great…
A Zombie Christmas Carol by Michael G. Thomas was a perfect example of someone jumping on the zombie bandwagon, and running it right off a cliff (Thomas should stick to sci-fi & leave the undead alone). I was expecting it to be the best of the three because it had a great book cover, and it was also available in paperback. Well, somewhere, a Christmas tree is mourning the loss of its family because this was a complete waste of paper. The lack of creativity was overwhelming, and this version came off as a lazy attempt at a mash-up.
A Christmas Carol With Zombies by Carl Hilton was better than I expected. In this version, Scrooge is “expert at spotting the undead,” and there is an ongoing zombie outbreak. Scrooge is all about fighting zombies, and doesn’t believe that people should be making merry with the undead roaming the country. In the past Scrooge is shown as a warrior in training. The present wasn’t much different from the original, and the future revealed Scrooge having succumbed to the zombie virus. I liked the theme of fighting zombies vs. enjoying life while you have it, but I thought the author could have embellished it a bit more. However, it had far more zombie action than the previously mentioned version.
The clear winner was A Christmas Carol of The Living Dead by Rebecca Brock. Instead of just adding zombies to the original story, Brock changed up the plot in several ways. She immediately touched on “The Uprising,” and her Marley rises as one of the undead. Brock’s Scrooge feels people should be more concerned with patrolling the walls than celebrating Christmas, but he insists on charging for the stone replacements, which no one can afford…so the walls grow weaker. The descriptions of Marley’s ghost, and the three Christmas ghosts were outstanding! I loved Brock’s visual take on the after-life consequences of the undead infection. The past ghost shows an attack by Scrooge’s undead grandmother, a horde of zombies attacking a holiday party, and his ex-fiancé’ Belle succumbing to a bite. The present ghost reveals that Tiny Tim had his leg cut off to stop the spread of infection, and the North wall collapses. The future ghost warns Scrooge that he will become one of the zombies, and the Cratchit’s try to hold out in their attic…unsuccessfully. What I found most interesting is that in Brock’s version, Scrooge is responsible for the initial outbreak. It was an HP Lovecraft type of twist.
Next year, I think I will just stick to holiday-themed Zombie stories, as opposed to the mash-ups, but I am hoping to see more of Rebecca Brock’s zombie writing in the future.